2013 was truly a great year for gaming. So many amazing titles have come out this year that I still haven’t had time to finish all the ones I did pick up, and there are plenty more on my wishlist. For me, it’s been a particularly glorious time for handheld video games, though the PS3 has had plenty of love, too, and the indie scene has been full of profound and fun material.

To echo the refrain expressed by games journalists everywhere (and every year!), it really wasn’t easy to cull this list down to a mere five. To make it a little simpler, I tried to go with a theme. Most of my list consists of games that left me thinking about them long after I put down the controller or that provided me with a totally new experience. Of course, there’s always room for a little nostalgia trip as well, and you’ll see that in a moment. In any case, these are my top five games from 2013.

#5 Pokemon X – 3DS

The Pokemon series never really changes its formula, yet each new iteration has offered some of the most fun you can get in a game, and Pokemon X is no exception. Maybe it’s purely nostalgia on my part, but I had such a blast with it that I might even rank it higher than Gold/Silver, my previous favorite. With great music and graphics, streamlined features, and character customization (finally!), I played this one non-stop until it was over and enjoyed every second of it.

Pokemon X
#4 Hatsune Miku Project Diva F – PS3

I love rhythm games that I don’t have to actually dance to, though when I first heard about Project Diva F, I admit I was skeptical. Sure, I like Japanese pop music and techno stuff, but a Vocaloid rhythm game? Meh. Then, I bought the thing on a whim, and I haven’t completely stopped playing since. The gameplay is addicting, and damnit, so is the music. Thank you, Project Diva F, for giving me another super niche genre of music to import. Now, I’ll just sit here and throw money at Sega while I wait for the Vita version to drop next year.

Hatsune Miku Project Diva F
#3 Tearaway – Vita

Speaking of the Vita, if you’re craving a game that truly takes advantage of this awesome handheld’s features, then go out and buy Tearaway, right now. Tearaway makes use of both cameras, the front touchscreen, the back touchpad, the accelerometer, and even the microphone, and all the controls are so intuitive that it really doesn’t need much of a tutorial. This colorful, construction paper world aims to make players feel like they’re truly interacting with it, and it succeeds with true creative flair. Fun fact: you can even collect papercraft patterns to build yourself!

Tearaway Cover
#2 Bioshock Infinite – PS3

There was no way my PC was going to run Bioshock Infinite when it came out, so this marks the first time I played a first-person shooter without a keyboard and mouse. It was definitely worth dealing with the learning curve. Sure, the shootouts just got in the way sometimes, but ultimately, Infinite’s story was just so profound that it’s hard to fault it for much. The characters, voice acting, art, script, subtle details…okay, pretty much everything about this game is fantastic. And the vigors; let’s not forget how badass the vigors are. But that ending! I’ll never forget how this game made me feel and the way everything came together so perfectly right there at the end.

Bioshock Infinite Reverse Cover
#1 The Stanley Parable – PC

I had never heard of The Stanley Parable mod until the complete game came out this October, and I’m glad it came to my attention when it did. This game made me question everything I’ve been conditioned to do when I play video games, and it did so with phenomenal, dry, British narration. What more could you want? I’ve already spoiled too much, but you really should play this. Play it many times over, and you’ll learn something profound about yourself each time.

The Stanley Parable

That’s my rundown. Did your favorite games make the list? If not, jump into the comments and share them!

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